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LAS is an award-winning provider of elearning consultancy, design, development and training services in the UK and internationally. 

Established in 2005 as LearningAge Solutions, we work with some of the best known organisations in the world to boost their performance through the innovative use of learning technologies. Working in partnership with our customers, we draw on proven principles from human behaviour, how people learn and how the brain works to create impactful digital learning solutions with real return on investment.

About Tess Robinson

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Tess is a director of LAS. She has worked in a learning environment for over fifteen years. First, as a senior manager in universities, moving into digital learning seven years ago.

How Play Can Keep Humans Relevant

By Tess Robinson
Posted 27th September 2019

For quite a few years now we’ve been talking about how work is evolving. How a new technological age is coming and with it, automation and digital transformation that will render a lot of the jobs we do redundant. Well, that age is coming up fast and we’re woefully underprepared. It’s time to start thinking with some urgency about the type of work that humans are better suited to than machines and how we can develop the skills needed to do that work.

I was lucky enough to see the founder of the global think tank, Learning Without Frontiers and futurist, Graham Brown-Martin give a talk recently. He speaks very passionately about the future of work and the challenge of transforming education around the world to ready people for a different way of working. He identified three areas where humans have the advantage over machines:
1. Creative endeavours
2. Social interactions
3. Mobility and dexterity

Let’s take the first one. When times are tough the very thing we need to harness in order to succeed tends to be diminished.  As John Cohn says in his TED Talk ‘tight times often lead to the fun and the play being squeezed out of work but the harder it gets, the harder you have to play’. That ‘play’ and the resulting creativity, is still often seen as something additional to our day-to-day work, not as something that’s intrinsic to it. Play at work is often considered trivial or irrelevant. We need to shift this mindset.

As children, our brains grow dramatically in that first decade of life. The way that we learn in this critical period – i.e. through play - tends to be restricted to childhood. When was the last time you did some playful learning at work? I’d like to bet, probably never. Yet this way of learning lights up the brain like nothing else. It allows you to experiment without fear, to experience, to connect and to explore. What if organisations gave adults permission to learn through play too? Not only would that be fun and engaging for them, but it promotes agility and flexibility, qualities that are essential to success in this new world we find ourselves in.

Stuart Brown
from the National Institute for Play suggests that we should not set aside time to play but instead ‘ infuse our lives day-to-day with play’. He argues that humans are designed to play and retaining this through adulthood has a positive neurological impact. Basically, learning through play changes our brains and helps us to be more creative, productive, influential and happy.

So perhaps this new world of work requires a new way of learning. Our inclination to become more serious and hunker down as times get harder may be counter-productive. What we all need is a bit more fun at work to help us amplify those human qualities that machines and technology simply don’t possess. Could a more playful approach to learning be what saves us in the end?


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